How The Women Of Amazon Fought For - And Won - A Revolutionary Family Leave Policy (October 10, 2017)

By: Rebecca Gale, Slate

At Amazon, Lindsey Fowler was lucky to have a job she liked, as a senior manager of software development, and one with a paid leave policy in place when she had her first child in December of 2011. She took 10 weeks off, 8 of which were paid, before returning to work. “I would have liked to stay out longer, but we couldn’t afford for me to stay out,” she said.

But when she started thinking about having a second child, she spoke with her co-workers, who agreed that the paid leave Amazon offered was decent but could be better. So Fowler, a member of the Amazon Women in Engineering, or AWE, leadership team, convened a meeting with a half-dozen other women. One night in December 2014, in Fowler’s basement, over glasses of wine and chocolate caramels, they hammered out a vision of what the company’s improved parental leave plan could look like: more paid time off, easier transitions back to work, and leave options for moms and dads, birth parents and adoptive.

“We created a press release,” said Fowler. At Amazon, when an employee concocts an idea for a new product, she presents the concept to management and her colleagues in a press release. Fowler and her colleagues decided to present an idea for better employee benefits in the same way.